Bears @ Saints
Final Score: Saints 24, Bears 17
Writer: Mike Miklius (@SIRL0INofBEEF on Twitter)
The 4-4 Saints hosted the 2-6 Bears in a lackluster matchup of a bottom-dwelling NFC North squad and a team from the NFC South. The Bears struck first when Tyson Bagent hit Cole Kmet for an 18-yard score. The Saints went three-and-out and then the game heated up: Chicago threw an interception, leading to a Saints touchdown. The Bears struck back with another score. New Orleans quickly rebutted. Chicago missed a field goal and it was 14-14 at the break. If I know one thing about the Bears–who I watch weekly–it’s that they don’t do halftime adjustments. Chicago just plays worse in the second half. After a Saints punt to start the second half, DJ Moore fumbled and the Saints took the lead on a field goal. Chicago answered, but that was the last good Bears moment. Here’s how their remaining drives ended: INT, INT. punt, fumble. The Saints found the endzone one more time thanks to a Taysom Hill toss, and they escaped with the 24-17 win. Here is what I saw today.
- Saints D – Great halftime adjustments made life miserable for the Bears in the second half
- Derek Carr – Managed the game well for the Saints and avoided major mistakes
- Taysom Hill – threw and caught a touchdown today; all-around useful weapon
- Cole Kmet – huge day for the Bears tight end with two scores
- Darnell Mooney – impactful early and often; this was the Mooney game
- Tyson Bagent – Great first half but a disastrous second half; Bagent lacks arm
- DJ Moore – minimal targets and a rare fumble killed the Bears
- Michael Thomas – Michael Thomas was blanked in this one and his target wasn’t catchable
Tyson Bagent: 18/30, 220 yards, 2 TD, 3 INT, 2 Sacks, Fumble | 8 carries, 70 yards
Justin Fields was out one more week and this was likely Tyson Bagent’s last chance to impress the coaching staff. In the first half, he did a good job. Bagent kept the offense moving on multiple long drives. He was accurate and quick to get the ball out. He also managed the pocket well and even impressed as a scrambler. Bagent made fans want to believe in the first half. I saw three good drives (two touchdowns and a missed field goal) and one mistake. His first pick was a pass to Cole Kmet that was jumped. This became key in the second half, but we’ll get to that. Bagent was impressive early before the Saints had the chance to learn his shtick. Bagent has a limited arm and functions well throwing quick passes. He struggles when he needs power–whether throwing into tight windows or just going deep in general. In the second half, the Saints picked Bagent apart. They forced the Bears to look deep and Bagent crumbled. He couldn’t hit tight windows and he completely fell apart. Once he lost his rhythm, his pocket presence soon followed. The only reason the Bears stayed in this one is New Orleans’ inability to score.
D’Onta Foreman: 20 carries, 83 yards
D’Onta Foreman remains the bright spot in this backfield with Khalil Herbert still on the shelf. He ran hard today and dominated a few drives. My favorite was in the second half: Foreman had carries for 9, 12 (called back for holding), and 22. On the 22-yard run, Foreman snuck through a small hole and quickly got up to speed. He isn’t a burner, but he has a great combination of power and enough speed to be exciting and turn small gains into big ones. No one can challenge Foreman for the workload here.
Roschon Johnson: 2 carries, 6 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 9 yards
Darrynton Evans: 1 carry, 2 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 19 yards
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Darnell Mooney: 6 targets, 5 receptions, 82 yards
Darnell Mooney was a force today. He started early, making a 12-yard catch on the first drive. He came back on the third drive with a 33-yard gain. Mooney caught the ball short, juked three defenders with one move, and ran free for a big gain. It felt like Mooney was given the DJ Moore role and early on this was great. Mooney mostly disappeared in the second half once New Orleans adjusted and took him away. Still, this was a great outing and a boost for Mooney who has mostly struggled. Let’s hope the Bears can build on this.
Cole Kmet: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 55 yards, 2 TD
Cole Kmet was everywhere today, starting with an early touchdown. He ran for the corner of the endzone and corralled an underthrow away from a defender who had position. Kmet saved this play and deserves a heap of credit. Kmet continued to be everywhere, bailing out Bagent when he ran into trouble. Like Mooney, Kmet was mostly taken away in the second half.
DJ Moore: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 44 yards, fumble (lost)
DJ Moore was mostly a non-factor today, but he made an uncharacteristic mistake. Moore fumbled away his first catch on a soft fumble. He just never got going. Still, Moore is fun to watch when he does get the ball; there aren’t many who are better with the ball in their hands.
Robert Tonyan: 1 target, 1 reception, 11 yards
Tyler Scott: 2 targets
New Orleans Saints
Derek Carr: 25/34, 211 yards, 2 TD | 3 carries, 3 yards
Derek Carr did a great job keeping the Saints’ offense running, doing just enough to keep it moving and get the win. Carr was accurate but felt like he was playing it safe. It didn’t hurt that he was playing against a bad defense. The Saints’ offense felt like they would have been left in the dust by a good team and most of their plays were short completions to keep Carr from losing the game. Carr’s best play of the game was his first touchdown: He made a nice throw to Chris Olave to tie it up early. Still, Carr is who he’s always been and it didn’t change this week.
Alvin Kamara: 9 carries, 26 yards | 5 targets, 4 receptions, 44 yards
Alvin Kamara was mostly a non-factor today. He didn’t get the start–thanks Jamaal Williams–and it felt like he was playing second fiddle to Taysom Hill for most of this contest. Kamara was the hero of the team’s third and fourth drives, dominating touches and looking like the first option. That was most of his day though. Chicago held the ball for much of the first half which limited opportunity. Hill and Williams both stole some work. The result was a lowkey day and minimal stat output. Kamara’s best run was in the second half; he shrugged off the first tackler, then the second, and then kept powering forward before–you guessed it–Taysom Hill vultured the touchdown. Kamara showed flashes and still has talent; I just don’t think this offense is all that good.
Jamaal Williams: 3 carries, 6 yards | 3 targets, 2 receptions, 6 yards
Kendre Miller: 1 carry, 0 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 31 yards
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Taysom Hill: 1/1, 3 yards, TD | 11 carries, 52 yards | 5 targets, 4 receptions, 13 yards, TD
Taysom Hill played a very Taysom Hill game today. He started running the ball early; then there was a touchdown reception. Later on, he threw what would become the game-winning touchdown pass. Hill did a little bit of everything and continues to be a fun weapon. I would love to see him get traded to–and used by–a better offense. Still, this might be the perfect home. I hope Hill becomes a blueprint for how to use more players of his style; I can only imagine what Tim Tebow could have been on this path.
Chris Olave: 8 targets, 6 receptions, 46 yards, TD
Chris Olave played well today, but it looks like he and Derek Carr just aren’t quite on the same page. Olave is great at finding holes in coverage and pulling in the ball. His biggest problem was just not enough opportunity. He looked great early, hauling in multiple receptions on both of the teams’ first two drives. Things just dried up after that and it was over. Both offenses went dark in the second half and this probably affected Olave. His touchdown was a great move to find space between two guys. He had a drop, but not a terrible one. I love Olave’s talent, but I think this offense limits him.
Juwan Johnson: 5 targets, 5 receptions, 29 yards, TD
Rashid Shaheed: 3 targets, 3 receptions, 22 yards
Michael Thomas: 1 target
Michael Thomas’ one target came late in the game and was uncatchable. I don’t know why he was blanked today, but it’s worrisome.